Category Archives: Chile

Adventures in Chile and along the southern coast

History of Easter Island – Rapa Nui


Easter Island is a historical, yet magical and mystical island.  It’s a dream come true to see this stunning island and the majestic moai in person.  In Spanish, Easter Island is called Isla Pasqua and the locals call it Rapa Nui.  This island sits more than 2300 nautical miles NW of Chile and is considered one of the most isolated places on earth.  However, the remote volcanic island is on our route to French Polynesia and will be a very welcome stop for Sugar Shack.

Easter Island’s mystery is centered around the most logic-defying statues on the planet: the moai.  These human depictions with over-sized heads emanate a magnetic, mysterious vibe.  They are mounted on massive stone pedestals called “Ahus.”  Stay tuned for a blog solely on the history of the moai.

How Did Easter Island Get It’s Start?

You might wonder, as I did, how a society blossomed in this unlikely place?  Somewhere around 300-400 A.D., several hardy souls navigated a fleet of wooden outrigger canoes to Isla Pasqua in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.  Today, the population is roughly 3,300 people on what is now known as a World Heritage site.

Easter Island was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions.  It is an isolated triangle measuring 14 miles long by seven miles wide. In addition to its hilly terrain, the island contains many subterranean caves with corridors that extend deep into mountains of volcanic rock. The island’s largest volcano is known as Rano Kao, and its highest point is Mount Terevaka, which reaches 1,969 feet (600 meters) above sea level. It has a subtropical climate (sunny and dry) and temperate weather.

There is no “natural harbor” here, but ships can anchor off Hanga Roa on the west coast.  This is the only anchorage with “decent” access to shore. You do have to brave through the breakwater which has waves peaking over 2 meters.

Hangoa Roa at Easter Island

Hangoa Roa at Easter Island

On Shore

It is fairly easy to get around, by foot, bus, taxi, bike, or horseback.  The island’s economy depends on tourism and things are not cheap.  You can find decent provisioning between the multitude of small tiendas, but there is no true “market.”  Plenty of touristy stores can be found off the main road.  But other than that, you won’t find much.

Horses, cows and dogs roam freely among the locals and tourist.  The sun shines brightly against the brilliant blue water surrounding the lush, green island.  It is truly a breathtaking sight to behold.

Locals hanging out Easter Island

Locals hanging out Easter Island

The armada even has a pretty sculpted piece in front of the building

Armada on Easter Island

Armada on Easter Island

The only church on the island is just off the main road, in the center of town.

Church on Easter Island

Church on Easter Island

Some Great Articles:

Robinson Crusoe Hike to Selkrirk's Mirador

Adventures on Robinson Crusoe

There is a lot to see on this small island named after the famous storybook legend, Robinson Crusoe.  This blog is dedicated to the highlights of our adventures.


Alejandro Selkirk walked barefoot for two hours each day to reach a look out that gave him views of a great portion of the island.  Here he would watch the horizon for ships to rescue him.  There are two memorial plates of Selkirk’s adventure that can be found on this path.  The first was left by officers from the British ship Topaza and the other by a direct descendant of the Scottish corsair.

We had a lovely guide who joined us on our exploration.  About 15 minutes into our hike, a large, black, furry dog nuzzled my hand and took the lead.  It was absolutely amazing.  He showed us exactly where we needed to turn and which fork in the road to take. Crazy fellow would also wait if one of us lagged behind.  Usually, I was lagging behind, having difficulties catching my breath.  He would lead Matt up the path and if he did not see me coming behind him, he would come get me.  Truly a sweet, good natured pup.

Selkirk's Mirador Hike

Selkirk’s Mirador Hike

About half way to the first monument, we came across remnants of Alejandro Selkirk’s house.  He had one house in a cave facing the main bay and another more protected more inland.  The second one is what we found on this trail.  Basically, stones of the foundation, but the location was protected yet breezy.  The last photo is the crazy dog digging for bugs.

Selkirk's House Remnants

Selkirk’s House Remnants

Finally.  Reached 1st of 2 Mirador’s

We reached the first memorial just in time to take advantage of the gorgeous view and cool breeze.

First Mirador on hike

First Mirador on hike

Another 45 minutes up the hill we reached the 2nd memorial which is where Alejandro would go each day in search of rescue ships.  Amazing view of two sides of the island

Selkirk's MIrador View of two bays

Selkirk’s MIrador View of two bays

Along the path were wild blackberry plants.  Matt had a field day picking and eating fresh berries.  The top left photo is a picture of the bay where you can just barely see Sugar Shack.  The bottom right photos shows you the location of the two memorials

More Amazing views from Selkirk's Mirador

More Amazing views from Selkirk’s Mirador

On the way back into town we stopped at a restaurant for cold beverages and learned this was the home of our tour guide.

Selkirk's Eatery

Selkirk’s Eatery


We so badly wanted to visit Selkirk’s Cave. But alas it was not in the cards.  The only way to access this cave is by boat and then up a craggy path.  The tourist season on Robinson Crusoe island was December – February.  We arrived the middle of March.  So, no tourist boats to take us to the cave and it was a bit too far and too rolly for Sweetie.


Fortress of Santa Barbara is a national monument in the center of town.  It defended the Spanish against pirates during the 18th century.  There is a small piece of the original wall which stands strong and several cannons that remain.


I know it is weird, but I really enjoy visiting local cemeteries.  The local island cemetery is very small, which is not surprising considering there are only 500 inhabitants.  But the really interesting thing about this cemetery is that there are graves of some sailors from the Dresden as well as he Baron Alfredo de Rodt’s.

Cemetery and Fortress

Cemetery and Fortress


Located next to the fortress are seven caves that were sad shelter for the patriots of the Chilean Independence.  They were banished in 1814 to Robinson Crusoe and did not fare well in these caves.  Some of the caves had enclaves for cooking, but most were nothing more than a massive hole in a rock.

Patriot's Caves

Patriot’s Caves


Just above the rocky shore is a large volcanic wall.  Embedded into this rock wall are four cannonballs that were fired during the Dresden attack.

Dresden Cannonball Attack

Dresden Cannonball Attack


A beautiful and moderate hike took us to Plazoleta dely Yunque (little square).  At this spot you can still see the remains of Hugo Weber’s home. Hugo was a sailor of the Dresden and hid from the rest of the world 12 years.  He was later accused of being a member of a network of espionage of Canaris.

Plazoleta dely Yunque

Plazoleta dely Yunque


A well built, wooden path is ust beyond the Plazoleta that leads you through the forest with lovely, endemic flora and fauna.

We really enjoyed our short visit to Robinson Crusoe.  The island had great history, friendly inhabitants, and beautiful landscape.  A wonderful stop in our travels.

Hanging out on Robinson Crusoe

Storybook Island: Robinson Crusoe

Not many people have an opportunity to visit this small island.  Chileans refer to it as Juan Fernandez, but it is more famously called Robinson Crusoe island.  The storybook is based on this island.  From Valdivia, Chile to Juan Fernandez is about 500nm and should take us 4-5 days.  We did not expect a lot of weather and were hoping for a good sail.  As luck would have it, we sailed the entire way with the mostly the small spinnaker!


  • Departed Valdivia on Saturday, 9 Mar at 1415pm
  • Arrived Juan Fernandez on Wednesday, 13 Mar at 0100am
  • Miles Traveled 485
  • Max speed 12.1
  • Average speed 5.5

Very early morning arrival at Cumberland Bay, Robinson Crusoe. Certainly not idea, so we took all precautions entering Bahia Cumberland at 1 am in the morning.  We circled for about an hour trying to determine the best anchorage.  It was extremely deep, even close to the fishing boats, at 40-60 meters.  Not good for anchoring.  It was pitch black, no moon, and only a few street lights on shore.  On the first attempt, we dropped the hook in 26 meters of water.  We sat and watched it and decided we did not feel comfortable with our swing.  The second attempt. we dropped it in 24 meters of water.  We had a little more swing room, but didn’t feel comfortable.  Matt ended up staying awake until day break when we moved for a 3rd time.  Deep, dark blue water.

Cumberland Bay at Robinson Crusoe

Cumberland Bay at Robinson Crusoe


Went ashore and first met with SAG (agricultural department) to ensure we did not bring any fruits, veggies, meats from another country.  Then we stopped in to see the Parque National Arch de Juan Fernandez to get our park passes.  Our last stop was the Armada to clear into the island.  Everything went smoothly.

Decision time.  Go back to the boat and try to catch up on some sleep or explore.  We decided to go exploring.  We only have a few days here so why not make the most of it?


The archipelago was discovered in the 1500’s by Fernandez, a Spanish sailor of Portuguese origin. There are three islands that make up this archipelago.  Robinson Crusoe, Marinero Alejandro Selkirk, and Santa Clara.  These islands are thought to be between 2 and 4 million years old.

Many unsuccessful attempts were made to colonize the islands.  Two ships from the English corsairs anchored in front of what is now known as Robinson Crusoe island in 1704.  A boatswain by the name of Alejandro Selkirk argued with the captain and was left on the island with only a bible, knife, rifle, pound of powder, tobacco and some clothes.  He remained on the island for 4 years and 4 months before his rescue by an English corsair.  Alejandro’s diary and story were the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s famous storybook “The Incredible and Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.”


Newly constructed buildings now house small tiendas and restaurants along the shore.  It was lovely, but odd because they all looked so new.  We discovered a tsunami destroyed Cumberland Bay and the small town of San Juan Bautista in 2010.

Robinson Crusoe Town

Robinson Crusoe Town